Loft Living Coming to Bremerton’s Fourth Street

Source: Kitsap Sun
By: Josh Farley
Posted: Jan 03, 2017

BREMERTON — It’s on a one-block stretch of Fourth Street where the ambitions of Sound West Group get lofty.

The development company, based just around the corner at Fifth and Pacific Avenue, is heading up an $8 million project to transform a number of vacant commercial buildings into a lively core, featuring 27 new loft-style townhouses.

“It’s set up perfectly to be the public square of Bremerton,” Wes Larson, managing partner of the group, said of Fourth Street.

For years, the one-way, meandering stretch of road between Washington and Pacific avenues has been criticized for its blight. But Sound West Group saw something different — a chance to reinvent the street with residential construction. The group, with help from investors as far away as Thailand, bought up several vacant buildings, including the historic 1941-built Roxy Theater. And now, it will add elevators and staircases to create a new style of city living in Bremerton.

“They’ll have their own vibe,” Mike Brown, Larson’s partner and president of FPH Construction, said of the units.

The active development group, which also will celebrate the opening this month of the 80-unit, $15 million Spyglass Hill apartments overlooking the Manette Bridge, is getting some government housing money to do the Fourth Street project. About $235,000 in grants from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development is paying for new facades on the street, as well as fire sprinklers at one location. Sound West Group also is tapping into some tax credit financing programs for urban revitalization through the federal government, Larson said.

The subsidy, approved by the City Council, helped make the project pencil out, Larson said. After the facade improvements at what were once known as the Sears and Ford buildings, construction will begin on the apartments inside, as well as 159 storage units to fill out the rest of the site.

Construction will begin in March and will last about six months, Larson said.

Sound West Group is close to a deal that will turn the lights back on in the old Roxy, which it also purchased in January 2016. Larson said the group is closing in on a contract with a vendor to play movies on its single stage. It’s also working with the Admiral Theatre and community groups for on-stage productions. About $1 million of the overall $8 million in work will go to refurbish the old theater and the signs that hang out front.

The idea for residential housing on Fourth was first floated by local architect Steve Rice after he’d taken a trip to Brooklyn in New York City. Rice wondered about adding some residential lofts and overall units to a street that has struggled to attract commercial tenants. Sound West Group is embracing that vision, and its partners see it as a way to reboot the street, once and for all.

“If the people are here, the businesses will find a way to follow,” Brown said.

The city, too, has ambitious plans for the street. Aside from Sound West Group’s work, city leaders hope to embark on a nearly $5 million overhaul of the street to make it a public venue named for Quincy Jones. The music legend spent some of his youth in Bremerton.